The Norwegian government is known as a welfare government in the world. Since the oil discovery in the North Sea in the late 1960’s, Norway’s economy has thrived upon the export of oil and gas. The quarter of public expenditure is covered by revenues earned from the oil industry. The government doesn’t shy on generous expenditure on the schools, healthcare and unemployment benefits.
The Norway government believes in purchasing social security for one and all. In 1996, the government started investing this revenue from oil judiciously in the financial assets abroad. Recently its returns hit the record $ 1 trillion in the market value which is 1.5 times of its GDP. The oil fund has been reserved for future generations and renamed as Government Pension Fund Global.
One of the underlying principles of Norway’s governance is that any economic activity must result in maximum value creation and that revenues must proceed to the Norwegian state and thus benefits society as a whole. Thus, the higher the number of people paid, higher the revenues for the government in the tax form. The fact that 70% of Norway population is employed and just 4% is under non-employment, is a startling statistic, in itself.
Other than social security, Norwegian employment law is distinguished by its pro-worker policies through legislation and collective contracts such as the Working Environment Act (WEA) and Annual Holidays Act.
Norway Employee Legislative Rights
Contract of Employment:
All employees have the right to an employment contract. WEA requires a written contract of employment to be provided to both the permanent and temporary workers. This is irrespective of the duration of employment.
According to WEA, normal working hours in a week are 40 hours. However, through collective agreement, this has been shortened to 37.5 hours/week.
Employees have the right to reduce the working hours due to health, social or welfare reasons.
Employees are entitled to at least four weeks of paid holiday leave each year. In case of senior citizens (60 plus years of age), one additional holiday week is permitted.
Sick Leave Benefits:
Employees who are ill can stay home until three consecutive calendar days without a medical certificate
Employees are entitled to daily cash benefits for a certain number of days if their children become ill.
Leave due to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Adoption:
Employees entitled to the 43 weeks of paid maternity leave. The leave can be shared between the mother and the father, but the first six weeks after giving birth is reserved for the mother.
Employees have the right to a salary during training.
Unemployment benefits are granted to moderately compensate for the loss of a source of income due to following reasons:
- End of contract with the employer
- The working hours get reduced by fifty percent or more
- Laid off – temporarily exempted from the duty of office work under specific circumstances
To be eligible for the unemployment benefits, the employee must have had the certain minimum amount and must be registered as an active job seeker.
World Happiness Report
According to World Happiness Report (2017), Norwegians are the happiest people in the world, followed closely by Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland. It doesn’t come as a surprise, looking at the Government’s active involvement in taking care of its citizens’ social and financial security. Its guiding principle should put Norway rank high on any happiness chart, be it on personal or professional.